LETTER: Tartan references are outdated

What about the cost of the art?

I feel compelled to respond to Gary Westhora for his take on how representative the tartan is to Mission.

“Each colour is representative of one or more of Mission’s unique characteristics

“1. Black is for coal;

“2. Brown is for cedar shakes;

“3. Blue to represent the Fraser River;

“4. Dark green – the forest;

“5. Pale green represents farming;

“6. Salmon pink represents salmon and berries.”

This characterization of what colours represent Mission is a little outdated and could apply to countless communities throughout B.C. and not unique to Mission.

1. black – coal (out dated), try electricity;

2. brown – try logging (unique);

3. blue – Fraser River (brown muddy Fraser River, the term used most often);

4. dark green – forest (not unique to Mission);

5. pale green – farming (corn, potatoes?);

6. salmon pink – salmon, berries (salmon OK but berries in Mission/Abbotsford are now blue).

Westhora also says that, according to the Mission website, there are descriptions of Mission that include our official flower, “the Caitlin rhododendron, which resides in Heritage Park” – who knew? What does this have to do with the controversial decision by city council to spend our precious tax money on an expensive plastic work of art.

Westhora states he believes that the current mayor and council have the duty and right to vote for a $53,000 art piece as their last agenda item of the week. I disagree.

Once the negative feedback from the citizens of Mission came pouring in following the public release of their decision, that decision was quickly reversed. Their misguided vote of acceptance to rejection, upon sober second thought and input from the public, is a beautiful thing in our democracy and highlights the need for elected officials to do their homework before making important decisions with taxpayer money.

My main concern for responding to Westhora’s letter, which I was surprised and impressed with his passion for the tartan, was that he did not address the cost for this art.

The money could, and should be, better spent. The money was obtained by gambling losers, and is ill-gotten gains, but is still our taxpayer money.

Spend it wisely and put the money toward kids’ sports, seniors’ activities and other vulnerable citizens in Mission, please.

It’s the right thing to do.

If you want art to represent Mission, then get Mission artists – especially Native artists – to create a piece more representative of what Mission really stands for rather than a tartan from Scotland that few can relate to.

I am very happy city council voted no, which says they are listening to the citizens of Mission. Jenny Stevens would be proud of you. That is encouraging.

As to Westhora’s critic on Jennette Smith’s comments of the council voting in unison as “bobble heads,” I had a chuckle as to the visual of these two votes and that visual will stick with me for a very long time.

All of the above being said, this was never about the tartan, Scotland or the Caitlin rhododendron, it was about a rookie city council spending our tax money unilaterally on art that, for the most part, does not represent Mission’s unique characteristics.

I would think that the money ($53,000 – yes, a lot of money for Mission’s small tax base) could be allotted toward the best proposal for what is best for Mission, by and for the people of Mission. In future I would hope that our new mayor and council will give more thought and consideration to their constituents’ needs and wishes before voting to spend our money without consultation with those very constituents.

Jerry Fairbanks


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